More than a thousand of Ms. Yingluck’s supporters gathered in the capital in the vicinity of the courthouse hours before Friday’s scheduled hearing, but the police blocked roadways and set up barricades to prevent the crowd from getting close. The supporters showed up even though she had told them not to do so.
Ms. Yingluck notified the court that she had Meniere’s disease and was experiencing dizziness and severe headaches, but the court did not accept her excuse because she did not send a doctor’s certificate. It rescheduled the verdict for Sept. 27. The court also ordered her to forfeit her bail of 30 million baht, about $900,000.
The case centers on whether Ms. Yingluck mismanaged a subsidy program that led to a stockpile of rotting rice. Thailand, which has been ruled by a military junta since shortly after the ouster of Ms. Yingluck’s government in 2014, remains deeply divided.
Unlike her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who fled the country after he was overthrown by the military in 2006 and was convicted in absentia on corruption charges, Ms. Yingluck remained in Thailand and fought the charges against her.
Her absence from court prompted some supporters to speculate that, like her brother, she might also try to leave the country.
“I think there’s 50 percent chance that she will flee and there’s 50 percent chance that she might come to fight,” said Vittawat Suwanpuk, 70, a retired banker who came out to support her. “She has fought so hard for this. She won’t give up easily.”
Nathathorn Prousoontorn, a police lieutenant general who heads the Immigration Bureau, said that there is no record of her leaving the country since 2014. In May 2015, the court ordered her not to leave Thailand without permission.
After she did not appear for her hearing, the immigration agency checked the records for all exits and border crossings, he said.
“They have been checking records and there is no record of her leaving the country,” he said.
There was widespread speculation in the Thai news media and on social media that Ms. Yingluck had gone to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, possibly by way of Cambodia and Singapore, or to Hong Kong. Her brother has been reported to be living in Dubai.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters that they had no idea where she was.
“She might be really sick. We don’t know,” Mr. Prawit said. “Maybe she is in some hospital. She is a former prime minister and some officials might have helped her if she is running away. I don’t know if she has left the country or not.”
Ms. Yingluck had told followers in a Facebook post on Thursday not to come to the courthouse, citing the strict security measures planned by the police.
“I would like to ask those who are concerned about me and want to give me moral support not to come to the court tomorrow,” she wrote.
Even if she is found not guilty in the rice subsidy case, she still faces possible criminal charges in several other cases of reported financial irregularities and mismanagement.
Ms. Yingluck became prime minister in 2011. Although she was a political neophyte, Thailand’s first female prime minister proved popular, particularly in the country’s populous north and northeast, where her promises to enrich farmers through subsidies resonated.
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